Into the better ‘designed’ world

Pandemic, a term we never thought we will come face to face with in a lifetime. Our lives have become a Sci-Fi movie that prepared us for times that have never been seen but have always been imagined. With the fear of what will happen next, the fear of crashing economies’ and stock markets, the global health alarms; India prepares for the unprecedented times of crisis and the new world will find new opportunities and new pathways. The world as we discuss now will move into a “Better Designed World”, How?

EMPATHY is the key

The home isolation and the confinement have forced the human mind to find alternatives in life and forced to look at life from a new perspective. With new ideas emerging, we need to look at new ways of understanding if these ideas can be successfully applied and turn into good design.

When we learn design process and apply design thinking to our thoughts to generate creative & innovative ideas, Empathy plays a key role in making successful design. Our very ability to put ourselves in others situation and understand the decisions one would make & look through their perspectives, generates the existence & meaning of Empathy. Though none of us can fully experience things the way someone who is actually going through it, but we can attempt to get as close as possible, and we do this by putting aside our own assumptions and choosing to understand the ideas, thoughts, and needs of others instead.

With the health crisis around the world, every individual sitting in any part of the globe, can understand the fear and emotion each one is going through. Current times have given birth to humanity with a new definition. We can feel, acknowledge and understand each other and empathize with one another with utmost sensitivity. This by far is the strongest basis we can create to define any design problem in the process of design.

The Design Process

We ideally follow a four step design process. We go through the stage of DEFINE: where we define our problems; RESEARCH: where we research on various aspect related to our design problem; IDEATE: we generate the pool of new ideas from our mind cloud and map it with the practical solution and; PROTOTYPE: where we actually make our real time solution and test it to success.


In this entire process of the design our core remains intact to culture and empathy, this global crisis has brought the culture on a common platform and empathy to the front foot. We look forward to more successful new ideas and make this world a better design for humans and the entire Eco system to live in peace and happy times.

From Me to US generation

There are steps people have taken to acknowledge their biases and to move beyond their own worldviews to try to understand those held by other people. The crisis has given humanity a jump from the “Me Generation” to “US generation”. The responsibility shouldered on not just one self but on every individual to achieve a greater good has made a symbolic reference to “US” existing in this world and in reality has made us more empathetic towards humanity and environment.

And that my friend is the key to the Better designed World.

Being a Reflective Designer

A typical design project mentoring session begins with the professor pointing out to the visuals presented by the student and enquiring

  • What more options do you have?
  • Did you think through the problem solutions we discussed, to improve on your design solutions?
  • Find the challenges in your design solutions.


By now the student is in a state of flux ready to throw in the line, topple the table, or shrug the shoulders and walk off….


…..all the while thinking under the breadth, ‘Who wants to go over again the discussion on finding more gaps in the designed product’? Didn’t I stay awake the whole night, forego the movie I’ve been dying to see, working on my design? Ask my parents, how I’ve put all my energy in this design, made lovingly, passionately, they’ll vouch for it.

No doubt these are some very genuine thoughts of the design student but before the frustration tips over into demotivation of the learner and extreme steps such abandonment of the project, this experience can be flipped into a positive methodology in learning.

The process of reflection during design development can form the foundation of exploration at every step allowing the design to progress only when the reflective process has satisfied the many questions raised.

In many instances, such as in an exam situation, very often students are heard wishing, that if only they were given a second chance they would have tweaked the solution differently or they would have considered the answer differently.

It seemed, given the opportunity of a second chance, they would have collected their thoughts, stepped back, taken a wider view, considered the context deeply, looked back at possible gaps, how it could have been resolved and after having carefully reflected on the possibilities, suggest solutions to the design problem differently……… now.

As Confucius philosophized, ‘Learning without reflection is a waste. Reflection without learning is dangerous’.


Reflection is a process of thinking again about the subject matter, now with a renewed sense of security, having undertaken and finished a task, the first time experiencing unsurety, insecurity and hesitancy.

When designers start with initial concepts, whether it be a simple project of developing a form or a complex project developing the corporate identity of a brand, the apprehensions remains the same as the excitement and anticipation. When reflective practice is adopted at all stages of development, it enables deeper exploration and fitment of the solution to the required brief.

Reflection at stages ensures better choices of pathways, more aligned progress and ultimately leads to more appropriate solutions.


During the process of design development, maintain a documentation and categorization of the data, the explorations and its context throughout the process

Repeated self questioning can lead to clarity of problem brief which is already half the problem solved.

Provide room for open critique and a healthy adaptation of aligning it to the design problem.

Like all design students are encouraged to keep a Design Diary, so should a project have its Design Diary earmarked to note reflections of important issues and to note landmarks.

As noted by Richard Carlson, American Motivation Trainer and Psychotherapist stated truly,

“Reflection is one of the most underused yet powerful tools for success.”

Reflections are not just thinking of experiences, over the time they turn into insights, which in the long run build up student’s Design philosophy and Design values.